Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP)

Jessica Wang, a member of the student organization Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program (KDSAP), had an opportunity to volunteer at the kidney screening event held by the organization on April 8th. Here is what she has to tell us about KDSAP and this event:

“KDSAP is a student-run organization that first started in Harvard. It aims to raise awareness of chronic kidney disease and educate the community on ways to prevent these diseases. What was once a small, somewhat inconspicuous organization grew little by little and eventually reached Berkeley as well.”

“On April 8th, the members of KDSAP provided free kidney screenings for a church community in Cupertino, CA. It was supposed to be the biggest screening held by any KDSAP chapter thus far. In preparation for this screening, I had numerous trainings and lectures, from how to avoid infectious disease transmission when performing tests on patients to how to take off examination gloves the correct way.”

“The screening consisted of blood pressure measurement, blood glucose measurement, BMI measurement and waist-hip ratios, urinalysis, and a physician consultation. We provided forms, both in Chinese and English, for the patients to fill out beforehand so the physicians could understand their health status. The screening went by smoothly; it would not have been possible without the club members, the doctors, and the welcoming church leaders who worked very hard to make this happen. With all this support, we were able to serve more than 100 patients that day.”

“What I got out of this experience is much more than merely knowing how to prick someone’s finger correctly or how to smile through sometimes stressful and exhausting procedures. Through this opportunity, my attitude has changed. I have learned that serving the community means treating them as if we are “washing their feet,” as the founder of this organization Li-Li Hsiao put it. In other words, those who serve the community are below the community in terms of pride and attitude. I saw what it meant to “serve.” I learned that having the ability to serve someone else is truly a blessing and a gift.”

KDSAP members with the church leadersA patient is registering and filling out forms before the screening. One of the KDSAP members is giving a blood glucose testing to a patient.

Denny Cha

Name: Denny Cha (Alum)

Major: MCB – Cell & Developmental Biology (Medical Biology & Physiology)

Graduation Date: May 2016

“I was part of an organization called VHIO (Volunteer Health Interpreters Organization) on campus. What they do is they reach out to underserved community where people have difficulty getting health care access mainly because of language and cultural barriers. While specifically working with Korean immigrants in the Bay Area, I perceived that there’s a lack of resources out there to help them. This really made me consider working in the healthcare field in order to help them receive the services they need. A lot of them actually have health insurances, but they don’t know how to utilize them. I want to be at the front line to help them out. For me, this was the big motivation that has led me to pursue medicine.”

“A process of applying to medical schools was much more intense than I had expected. I took a gap year because I didn’t want to rush myself. I am not a type of person who can multitask so I didn’t think I could manage academics, med school applications, and interviews all at the same time. Even so, I still think I rushed too much. My personal statement did not turn out as good as I wished it to be regardless of how much efforts and time I had put into it. No matter what, I wasn’t too happy with it. It requires a lot of time commitment. It took about a month and a half or maybe two to write my personal statement. I was slow on my first step, jotting down general ideas of what I wanted to write about for the first two weeks. For the remaining four weeks, I solely focused on writing and revising. I think it’s very important for pre-med students to keep in mind that you are really ready before applying to medical schools.”

“I think the really hard part is that there’s no right formula to get into a medical school. They look at each applicant in a different way, considering their backgrounds and many other factors. Application process is not fast; it will be a long process. I encourage pre-med students to be really persistent and not give up. If you are really passionate about medicine, you should go for it. It may take some time but you should really be persistent. Give your best. That’s all I have been doing for the past four years in Berkeley. Don’t be discouraged, but overcome it!”

*If you would like to read about Denny’s advice on letters of recommendation, please continue reading.*

Continue reading “Denny Cha”

Full Time Paid Medical Fellowship

Looking for full time work?
Apply for the East Bay Medical Fellowship/ Internship for a minimum 1 year FULL TIME position, with the possibility for a second year senior fellow position. This position is available only to graduating seniors and already graduated students. This is the 7th annual year of the fellowship with previous fellows attending the best medical schools in the US.
-4-6 positions will be available- starting summer/fall/winter 2017.
-Paid position with benefits commensurate with experience (ranges from $24,000 to $29,000)
-Medical assisting: See patients and help doctors with patient management in Pinole, CA (10 min from Berkeley)
-Increased clinical responsibility with ability
-Running a clinic from start to finish
-Assist and observe surgery 2nd half of fellowship
-TA a class in global public health at UC Berkeley
-1-2 years in duration of full time work
-Develop management consulting skills, understand the business aspects of medicine, billing and coding, front office operations, insurance plans and the health care system currently in the US, very useful later on as none of this is taught in medical school.
-Participate in international trips for research and humanitarian work. Previous fellows have gone to Mexico, Morocco and Macedonia with expenses paid
-write grants (previous fellows have received 5 grants and have applied for many more)
-Research leading to publications, IRBs, grant submissions
Expected to do research and publish papers but depends on initiative of student and interest in research
-Mentorship by surgeon who has been on 3 medical school admissions committees, is on faculty at 2 institutions, interviews applicants, and can aid in applications and getting into medical school. An ideal gap year before medical school.
-Guidance by the 4 current 2016-2017 fellows who will aid your transition and application to medical school.
-Scholarship to medical school provided based on performance and goals achieved during the fellowship
Typical schedule:
Monday: See and work up patients 730am to until work is finished,
participate in local anesthetic surgery
Tuesday: Surgery day/ research/ light clinic day/ and preparation for clinic- varies week to week 7:30 to 430pm,
Wed/Thurs: See and work up patients 730am to until work is finished come to lectures in Spring, leaving clinic early at 3pm.
Fri: Research day/ clerical work/ lighter clinical day- shorter day
Sat- Intermittent rare saturdays required for post op patient care, rounds, implementation of grants
Send CV, unofficial transcript, and 3 contacts,  to serve as references to by
April 5th, 2017. Answer the following questions in your cover letter:
1) Have you taken the MCAT? If so when? and what was your score? GPA?
2) What prereqs do you have left unfulfilled?
3) When are you applying to medical school? How many years off do you intend to take?
4) Are there any other languages you speak?
5) If you were a singer, who would it be, and why?

Professor Bordel

Name: Catherine Bordel

Profession: Lecturer of Physics 8A & 8B (Physics Dept. at UCB)

“I grew up in France, so I did all my education in France until I came to US to do postdoc. I didn’t have other experiences of what it’s like in other countries. It tends to be very general and open there after high school, so I followed that type of trajectory where you can go in many different directions like engineering, math, physics, and computer science. All those were possible for me, so it took me some time to figure out what I wanted to do. But it was not unusual at all. It’s actually very unusual, I think, that students would decide from their first year in college what exactly they want to do. Maybe that’s just a cultural difference.”

“After my third year in college, I had the opportunity to do a research internship in a lab. It was a project we all had to do as undergraduates; we spent half a day in one of the labs on campus once a week. We had a list of professors willing to take undergraduate students. I picked a spectrometry lab, which is actually far from what I did afterward. But it was a really nice first introduction to research, and the way of approaching problems was very interesting. I worked with a graduate student who was very experienced. I did some of the experiments with her and attended some scientific discussions as well. Although I couldn’t really understand anything and didn’t know what they were talking about, it was still a very nice experience to be able to work in a lab.”

“At the end of my fourth year, I had another great opportunity to be part of this special program where I could spend six months in another country for a research internship. I worked in the lab full time in the Netherlands. This experience was like magic! Although the prior research experience in the spectrometry lab developed within me a passion to continue research and pursue a career as a physicist, it was not until this time that I really confirmed what exactly I wanted to do. That was when I discovered magnetism, the field of research I am currently working on.”

*If you would like to learn more about Professor Bordel, please continue reading.* Continue reading “Professor Bordel”

Professor Garriga

Name: Gian Garriga, Ph.D.

Profession: Neurobiology Researcher and Professor (MCB Department at UCB)

“I am more of a developmental biologist. It’s interesting to study the development from a single cell into a complete organism, especially how the nervous system is put together into incredibly complex networks. When I started out, people didn’t know much about nervous system development, but it is now a much more established field.”

How did you decide to become a Bio 1AL Professor amongst other professions related to your field?

“I was always interested in science as a kid, so I studied biology when I was an undergraduate. But I didn’t really enjoy my undergraduate experience and didn’t want to be in school anymore once I graduated. So I did what I have been doing since high school and became a roofing contractor for a few years. I think I wasn’t mature enough at the time coming out of high school. I probably should have taken a time off before going off to college.

By luck and accident, I ended up going to graduate school and worked with an outstanding scientist. As a graduate student, I was trained in biochemistry and molecular biology, but changed fields as a postdoc, working in a developmental biology lab that used genetics to approach the problem of how the C. elegans nervous system developed. That’s when I started working on the problems that I work on now. Initially, I was mostly interested in research, and I still am. However, as time has gone on, I’ve become just as interested in teaching. I took on Biology 1A Lab with the goal of making it simpler. With Professor Terry Machen, we have simplified the materials and changed some of the labs to help students crystallize what they learn in Bio 1A lecture as well as to teach them experimental biology techniques.”

Full Time Research Position, UCSF

Dr. Lawrence Shiow from is hiring for full time position to work at UCSF in the Stem Cell building (Institute for Regeneration Medicine).  He is a physician-scientist studying newborn brain injury and is looking to hire a research assistant. You must have some experience doing undergraduate research, but the exact topic is not critical, as long as it is some aspect of cell biology, molecular biology, neuroscience, genetics, or immunology.  This is a perfect position for someone looking to go to graduate school or an MD/PhD program in 2-3 years.

We are looking to fill the position between now and July 2017.  Duties will include technical support for myself and other lab members, potential for an independent project, and supporting lab management.  Salary is dependent on experience and will follow a set UCSF salary scale.  Experience with sterile tissue culture, microscopy, mouse handling, molecular biology (PCR, western, cloning), histology, and flow cytometry would be highly favorable.

Please email me if you wish to apply.  Include the department from which you are graduating, your GPA, and the name/dates/contact info of the lab in which you worked.  Please include a cover letter and resume/CV in PDF format that includes 2 references, and your hobbies.  Put “SRA” in the subject line when you email me.

Lawrence Shiow MD PhD
Assistant Professor
Dept Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology
Broad Center for Regeneration Medicine & Stem Cell Research
Room RMB 900C
35 Medical Center Way, CA 94143

Professor Feldman

Name: Lewis J. Feldman

Profession: Professor of Plant and Root Development (Plant & Microbial Biology Dept. at UCB)

“Students tend to think that it is a one way street, where the faculty simply lecture the students. That, in fact, is a mistake because it is a two way street, where the faculty also feeds off of the students. If you want a good experience in a class, you should come to the lectures. This is a problem in Bio 1B because it is a webcasted 8 a.m. course. Currently, only about 20% of the students attend. That has an impact on some faculty because they feel they are not appreciated after working very hard to present the topic. It diminishes their regard and respect for the students as well. It changes their attitudes towards their lectures and class itself, and also how serious they want to be. I believe that the students can help the faculty do a good job by simply attending lectures. For some faculty, much of their existence is invested in the presentation and the students getting something out of it.”

“I also think it’s important that you do not feel reluctant about going up and talking to the faculty members even if it seems intimidating. When I go to office hours, maybe 50 students out of the class of 700 regularly come. Some faculty even get angry – they see 20% of the class coming to lectures each day, and then they find 90% of the class at their review session right before midterms. This makes the faculty feel like the students are only there for the answers and not really there for the material. There are some really good professors here at Berkeley, and it’s a shame not to experience that while you are here.”

You’ve stressed the importance of attending lectures regularly. From your own experience as an undergraduate, what other advice would you like to give to the students?

“I think it is really good for students to have a gap year. By being away from academics for a while, it gives you a chance to reassess your goals in the absence of all the surrounding peer pressure and to try out different things. I think a gap year, a time to go out and do something different, helps you solidify in your mind whether you really want to go into this field and gives you a chance to try something you maybe thought about but didn’t have time for while in college.”

*If you would like to learn more about Professor Feldman, particularly his research, please continue reading.*

Continue reading “Professor Feldman”

Andrew Pastor

Name: Andrew Pastor

Year: Senior (Transfer)

Major: Molecular and Environmental Biology

“I am a proud transfer student from Mt. San Antonio College, a community college in Walnut, California. I did not plan on going to community college but a mix of family and financial circumstances as well as needing some more time to figure out what I wanted to do made it the absolute best option at the time. Although I wasn’t super happy to be missing out on what I perceived to be the ‘college experience’, I very quickly realized how lucky I was. It became pretty clear to me that as long as you’re surrounded by people who care there is always amazing potential for personal growth. It wasn’t always easy balancing a full schedule of classes and work throughout my two years at Mt. SAC but it was always worth it. So, when I got to Berkeley and they told me ‘Here’s some money. Now you don’t have to work,’ I knew there was no excuse for me not to soak up as much as possible. I was definitely nervous but I was so ready for Berkeley and I wasn’t going to shy away from diving into the community.”

“I’ve always remembered warnings from one of my professors telling me how hard it’d be up here. Cal has definitely pushed me pretty hard as a pre-health student; it even made me question if I really wanted to follow this path. But all of these challenges made me stronger in my commitment and Cal ended up shaping me in a way that makes me pretty excited with where I’m headed. As long as you know why you want to pursue something, everything else comes naturally. I’ve grabbed as many opportunities as I could during my time here from researching to teaching a DeCal to volunteering with a free clinic to playing with Cal Raijin Taiko. It’s been an awesome ride. What I’ve found makes it possible for me to manage and enjoy my time is being involved in things that make me feel fulfilled in some way. Sometimes, we’ve got to stretch for that feeling, I think, but it’s super important to remember why you’re spending your time the way you are, especially because it’s so limited. Not just for a line on the resume, hopefully, but to actually become a better human being. Always remembering where I came from, what I am a part of now, and what I am working towards keeps me moving forward.”

*If you would like to learn more about Andrew, particularly his research interest, please continue reading. His research is mainly focused on reproductive health issues.*

Continue reading “Andrew Pastor”

Divya Seth

Name: Divya Seth

Year: Sophomore

Major: MCB – Cell & Developmental Biology

What extracurriculars are you involved with on campus?

“I am currently in KDSAP, which is the Kidney Disease Screening and Awareness Program. Last semester, we had our first kidney screening. We went to Fremont and provided free kidney screenings for a local church and their community. It was really rewarding to see how much of an impact we were able to have on the community just by a day of work. We were able to identify people who were on the track to getting kidney disease. It was amazing to see how one day of work has the potential to change somebody’s life. Kidney disease is one of those diseases that don’t show symptoms until very last stages, so it’s important to seek medical help while the disease can still be controlled. By learning about their kidney health and overall health, the people we served were able to seek the medical attention that they needed, and make changes to their lifestyles to improve their health.”

You seem to have found your place as a pre-med student now. How did you feel when you first entered Cal as an intended MCB major?

“When I walked into Cal my freshman year, I wish I knew that although pre-med is daunting, it is definitely doable. I think I got caught up in the daunting aspect of it and didn’t really reach out until my sophomore year. There are many support systems on campus such as the SLC and other academic and social organizations that students can reach out to. It’s really important to balance your life, not only academically, but also socially so that you can remain sane while pursuing medicine, or any career for that matter.”

“I find the most support amongst my friends here at Cal, and of course, my family back home. Without these people, I can say that I wouldn’t be where I am. As a student, you will definitely have ups and downs, and it’s important to remain grounded so that you can move forward despite the hardships you face.”

Chae Rhim Lee

Name: Chae Rhim Lee

Year: Sophomore

Major: MCB – Immunology

“Since I am from a low-income family, it was hard for me to meet a doctor or any kind of specialist when I got sick, so I wanted to be a doctor who can be there for people who can’t afford medical expenses. I think that’s how it started out. Then, I realized I’m good at science, so I was like, ‘why not?’”

“Because my family couldn’t afford to visit a doctor that often, I saw the importance of having a good immune system. There were people around me who had eczema and I myself have had asthma. I saw the importance of immunology because it is the front line of preventing most diseases.”

“I think there was big pressure on me to do well in school and go into the professional field because my family immigrated from Korea for my sister’s and my education. It was either a lawyer or doctor. But I realized I don’t like confronting or criticizing other people, so lawyer was definitely out of option for me. I just thought the medical field really interested me because my dad had a very bad immune system. He would always have stomach issues and catch a cold multiple times in a year. But when he started taking probiotic tablets, his health got a lot better. He hasn’t even caught a cold once in a year. After that, I saw the importance of having a good immune system and maintaining that balance in your body for you to not get sick as much. So I think that’s the field I want to explore and and do more research on.”